7 Bizarre Places to Find Family Heirlooms

My grandmother was recently searching for some old jewelry of her mother’s that she had misplaced. She wanted to give it to me for my birthday to ensure it gets passed down to the next generation.

She opened all the closets, searched through kitchen pots, and even behind light switches! Where did she finally find it? In the pocket of a jacket she hadn’t worn in years.

Photos, jewelry, furniture or documents can all tell us a bit of our family history and are a link to our past.

Many times we misplace family treasures or discover unknown pieces of family history while cleaning before a move or when a relative passes away. It’s important to know where to look for these sentimental mementos to make sure you won’t lose them forever.

Here are seven often-overlooked places to start:

  • Look inside books for handwritten notes on pages, or go through the pages to see if photographs, cards or other documents were hidden as bookmarks.
  • Check old handbags and luggage to see if anything was left inside from a previous trip. Old suitcases may also contain family travel documents never seen before.
  • Clothing such as jackets or jeans contain pockets where small pieces of jewelry, notes or even money can be found.
  • Search under and behind seat cushions, unzip pillow cases or duvet covers to see if any items are inside.
  • Look behind paintings, mirrors or other hanging art to see if anything is wedged in the back.
  • Old shoeboxes or cardboard boxes often hold photographs, documents and other mementos.
  • Check pots, pans, canisters and other kitchen appliances for misplaced recipes and jewelry.

Whatever you find, make sure you store and preserve it properly so it won’t get lost again. Digitize documents and photos and put other places in a “safe place” you will remember.

Where is the strangest place you’ve found an old family heirloom?


The email address is kept private and will not be shown

  • Jean Wallace Copeland

    August 1, 2015

    When we sold our parent’s home, my brother wanted to just throw out several boxes of miscellaneous receipts, cancelled checks, old tax returns, etc. Although I hadn’t become involved in genealogy yet, I told him that I would handle the boxes. Thank goodness I did, because I found a picture of our immigrant great-grandparents taken before they left Ireland in 1871. The other picture showed great-grandfather as an older man. In each picture, great-grandfather was holding his black thorn walking stick which I eventually inherited. There is only one other picture of him that has ever been found. It was worth the time to go through those boxes.

  • Lori Samuelson

    August 3, 2015

    In 1978 I found ALL of my husband’s family photos in an old suitcase in his parent’s basement. They wanted us to go through their belongings and take whatever we wanted as they were going to downsize. I’m so glad that I found them! They’ve all been scanned and saved in numerous places so that future family can enjoy them.

  • Donovan A. R. Bowley

    August 3, 2015

    Pull Down the window shades! Sometimes, careful or frugal folks used the roller shades in rooms where the shades were seldom pulled down as hiding places for special papers or even savings.

  • Jayden cronnolley

    January 10, 2019

    My family history is the one most important thing in my life and i would love to know where my family started.